The UK Elections 08-Jun-17

Don Pearce 12-Jun-17

A few comments about Thursday’s election and the humbling of Mrs May.


If last year’s Brexit vote was described as a political earthquake, then what we are seeing are the aftershocks from that earthquake.

It may well claim another scalp. Following the Brexit vote in June 2016 and Mr David Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister, there was a bloodbath with many political contenders for the job falling. Mrs May emerged as the unlikely winner without a vote needing to be taken. She set about preparing Britain for Brexit, and despite having been a Remainer (i.e. not in favour of leaving the EU). She picked up the mood of the country and carried the country in preparing Britain for the step the majority, albeit by only a small margin, had voted for – Brexit. She did a good job of this and in March 2017 a letter was handed to the EU announcing Britain was triggering Article 50, which was the concluding section of the Lisbon Treaty which set out what had to be done if a country wanted to exit the EU. There is a 2-year time slot allowed for all the negotiations. Having received the letter triggering Article 50, the EU then meet to work out an agreed strategy to deal with the situation. Having done this, the date was duly set for the commencement of these talks in earnest for June 19th, 2017.

With the main Opposition Party – the Labour Party – in apparent disarray with its controversial leader, Jeremy Corbyn, seemingly very unpopular within his own party, and Mrs May’s Conservative Party soaring in popularity in the opinion polls, Mrs May took the decision to call for a snap election in a bid to increase her majority in the House of Commons, the British Parliament. May had hoped to increase the Conservative’s majority to “strengthen [her] hand in the Brexit negotiations” (Guardian 02-May-17)

The call was unexpected as she had earlier ruled out such a step.

It now emerges that all was not well within the Cabinet, the inner circle of the highest Ministers who guide the policy of their leader. Two unelected advisors appear to have had a strong influence on Mrs May and many things were done which didn’t have cabinet approval. When these two advisors were in attendance at Cabinet meetings the atmosphere was described as “toxic”. The calling of the election and much of the Manifesto seemed to have been driven by advisors rather than the Ministers.

Whilst she was enjoying such success in the polls that didn’t matter too much. But certain items added to the Manifesto greatly backfired, and the Conservative Party came under attack for their apparent attack on pensioners and those suffering from dementia.  Polls showed a sharp drop in the support for her party.

On the other hand, the Labour Party played a strong hand to the younger generation especially those voting for the first time, with a pledge to abolish fees for attending University and also a pledge to re-instate free school meals for poorer families. With the use of electronic media and a series of low-budget short videos, this message was spread very effectively.

Despite the drop in ratings, Mrs May was expected to increase her small majority in Parliament.

Polling Day

The shock that followed the revealing of the results from exit polls which asked people who they had voted for, was palpable. Under UK legislation, this data cannot be released until after the polling booths closed at 10pm.

When the two main news channels released their findings at 10.01 that the prospect was that there would be no clear majority for Mrs May and that Britain was faced with a hung parliament, meaning no one party had complete control, there was disbelief, even in the Labour Party!

As the results trickled in throughout the night it was clear that the gamble of calling a snap election had spectacularly failed. The small majority that the Conservatives did have had been squandered, leaving the Conservatives short of the magic figure of needing 326 seats out of the 650 seats to ensure they just had a majority.

The final result was:

Conservatives: 317 seats

Labour: 262 seats

Scottish Nationalist Party: 35 seats

Liberal Democrats: 12

Democratic Unionist Party: 10 seats

Others: 14 seats

The number of seats needed is slightly complicated by the fact that the Northern Ireland Sinn Féin Party, do not send their elected MP’s to sit in Parliament as they refuse to give an oath of allegiance to the Queen. They won seven seats, so that the Conservatives have ended up just 5 seats short of what they need. Allowing for the one seat for the speaker of the House and three more for Deputy Speakers, who do not vote, this effectively leaves them 3 seats short.

As far as day to day running this is fine as not all MP’s turn up and the Opposition members are less likely to be present. It does matter in crucial items where a “3-line whip” is imposed and MP’s must attend.

The aftermath

Mrs May was greatly humbled and her cabinet made it clear that these two advisors had to go and that she would have to change her style and be inclusive of the experience and wishes of her Ministers.

Politics is a cruel career!

It would be surprising if she continued in the longer-term as leader. Although there were initial calls for her to stand aside, faced with Brexit talks commencing shortly, a more sombre mood now seems to wish for her to continue in the short-term as negotiations begin which will determine the future of Britain. May-be her work is done. She was the right person to follow up the Brexit vote and to trigger Article 50 letter. Maybe she is not the right person to thrash out an agreement with Europe, that is if an agreement can be made.

The Democratic Unionist Party. At the time of writing, negotiations are taking place to get the support of one of the smaller parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This Northern Ireland Protestant party was set up by Ian Paisley in 1971, at the height of the “Troubles” with Catholic pitched against Protestant. The Republican Sinn Féin and the IRA wanted to join Northern Ireland back to Southern Ireland (Eire), whilst the DUP wanted to continue union with England. Ian Paisley led this party for 37 years and steering it in 2007 to a power-sharing deal with Sinn Féin. The current leader is Mrs Arlene Foster.

This strongly Protestant Party has similar views on Brexit and other issues to the Conservatives.  And it makes sense to form an alliance with them. It doesn’t seem as if they are seeking a coalition agreement as the Conservatives did with the Liberal Democrats in 2010 under David Cameron. They are looking for an agreement to support the Conservatives at crucial votes. In return for a promise of support there will be demands. What the DUP campaigned for is Brexit, but with a “soft” border between North and South Ireland. The Irish Republic is one of the (currently) 28 EU members. As part of the UK membership, Northern Ireland (NI), has had a seamless border with her southern neighbour.  They are anxious that this continues as much of the “exports” of the divided Ireland is between the two parts. Full border control would make life very difficult. The DUP has strong views on abortion and same-sex marriages. Both of which are not allowed in NI. Conservatives are anxious, sadly, that these matters are not imposed on the rest of the UK.

One can perhaps see the benefit of this cooperation. Ian Paisley was the Nick Farage of earlier days. (Mr Farage is the ex UKIP leader who as a former member of the European Parliament had many bruising battles with the EU). When the Pope (John Paul II) addressed the European Parliament in 1988, Ian Paisley stood up and denounced him as Anti-Christ and was bundled out of the building. He understood what the EU was really about, with its Roman Catholic foundations. May-be this is the way the angels are ensuring Britain’s break with Europe is deeper. At the moment, the UK still wants to have an influence in European affairs, and a continuation of its membership of the Custom’s Union, the existing electronic border customs system that allows easy transit of goods. The EU sees this as a great bargaining chip. They will want freedom of movement of people too. But this is what the Conservatives and the DUP don’t want. Both want to have immigration controllable rather than an inbuilt right. It may well end up as unbridgeable and so an agreement can’t be made. Britain will be forced to replace the European market with other markets. We know there is no shortage of countries that want to sign free trade agreements, but a “hard “Brexit will be economically quite costly and in the short-term very disruptive. Markets hate uncertainty.

Now the DUP are, according to articles in the Jerusalem Post and the Jewish News 10-Jun-17, very friendly to Israel and the Jews—as indeed Mrs May is.

Northern Ireland is the UK’s bible belt. Like the American south, Christian Zionism is a potent force amongst Ulster’s church-going Protestant community, the traditional heartland of DUP support. Jewish News 10-Jun-17

They have acted strongly in favour of Israel in past Parliamentary debates, despite their being fewer than 80 Jews in NI! They have been very active to stamp out anti-Semitism.

The Israelis were quite pleased at the thought of the DUP being involved in the running of Britain as they would be pressing for the UK to turn to Israel and, I would assume, the Middle East for new markets.

The Israelis also saw another advantage in the immediate fall out from this messy election result. The pound sterling fell about 2% in the aftermath of the vote. Many Israeli start-up companies eye Britain as a good market. Time-zone wise and physical distance give Britain advantages over the US. A weaker pound lowers their costs of doing business in Britain and increases the value of any future profits being taken out.

Uniting Britain. Another result of the redistribution of seats in the UK election is that it puts paid to the breakup of the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The DUP support Union and in Scotland the Scottish Nationalist Party, which campaigned on having a second referendum on Scotland breaking away in order to retain EU membership, suffered the loss of many seats. It is clear that the message of Ezekiel 38:13 concerning the Merchants of Tarshish, will be an apt one. The UK is a collection of trading countries. A recent article (Star Tribune 22-Feb-17) used the term merchants to describe the UK’s current activities in the Middle East!

EU frustration.  An article in the Guardian 12-Jun-17 indicates the frustration that the EU feels over Brexit negotiations.

In a sign of growing impatience with the shambolic state of the British side of the talks, senior EU sources said that if London insisted on talking about a free trade deal before the issues of its divorce bill, citizens rights and the border in Ireland were sufficiently resolved, it would be met with a blunt response.

“If they don’t accept the phased negotiations then we will take a year to draw up a new set of negotiating guidelines for Barnier,” one senior EU diplomat said, adding that the EU could not understand Britain’s continued claim that it would be able to discuss trade and the divorce terms in parallel.

The EU’s 27 leaders formally agreed to give Barnier a narrow set of tasks at a summit in April and they have no intention of rethinking the so-called phased approach when they meet May at a European summit on 22-23 June.

They want to set an example of Britain to deter other nations from following her example.


Although many of us thought that Britain having a stronger hand would be a good thing, perhaps we shall see that in God’s Foreknowledge this was a mistaken conclusion. It may need a weaker position to move things along the Divine pathways. Britain has to separate. Perhaps with DUP support it will result in a more independent Britain, less involved in a Roman Catholic Europe and adopting the Protestant thinking that powered Britain to great things in the past. We are humbled by the Divine power that sees not as man sees but to the furtherance of His Plan and Purpose.

The angels work behind the scenes, nudging people on paths they may not go of their own volition, but circumstances lead them that way.

All in God’s hands, how thankful we are that it is not left to man to decide. How sensible our historic stand not to take part in election voting! God indeed rules in the Kingdom of Men.

Like in so many issues it is not for us to say to God what we think ought to happen. God’s purpose reigns supreme. Leaders are as pawns in angelic hands. When they have fulfilled their role, then they are replaced.

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